Global Passenger Demand Continues to Rise in January

A busy airport terminal.
Photo Credit: Skitterphoto via Pexels

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for January 2024 global passenger demand, signalling a strong start for the year.

The aviation industry has kickstarted 2024 on a promising note, as per the latest data released by IATA regarding global passenger demand in January. Taken overall, the continuation of recovery through the year looks promising.

Let’s delve into the key insights provided by the latest report.

Global Passenger Demand

In January 2024, total demand, measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), surged by 16.6%, reflecting a robust beginning for the year.

Simultaneously, total capacity, measured in available seat kilometers (ASK), experienced a significant uptick of 14.1%. Notably, the load factor stood at an impressive 79.9%, marking a 1.7 percentage point increase.

International Passenger Markets

Asia-Pacific Airlines

Asia-Pacific airlines witnessed a remarkable 45.4% increase in traffic compared to January 2023, continuing the region’s rapid recovery post the lifting of pandemic restrictions.

Notably, capacity soared by 48.1%, albeit the load factor experienced a slight decline to 82.6%. The exceptional growth can largely be attributed to China, which commenced the process of lifting COVID-19 travel restrictions in January 2023.

European Carriers

European carriers observed a commendable 10.8% rise in traffic in January 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.

Capacity also witnessed a notable increase of 10.7%, with the load factor slightly edging up to 77.3%.

Noteworthy is the strong rebound of routes between Europe and North America, which are now 6.5% higher than in January 2020.

A view of an airport terminal interior with air travellers.
Markus Winkler via Pexels.

Middle Eastern Airlines

Middle Eastern airlines registered a solid 16.2% increase in traffic in January 2024 compared to the previous year.

Capacity rose by 15.7%, leading to a 0.4 percentage point climb in the load factor to reach 79.9%.

North American Carriers

North American carriers experienced a noteworthy 12.3% rise in traffic in January 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.

However, the load factor saw a slight decline of 1.0 percentage point to 79.4%, despite a 13.7% increase in capacity.

Latin American Airlines

Latin American airlines recorded a significant 17.9% increase in traffic compared to January 2023.

The surge in capacity by 13.2% led to a substantial improvement in the load factor, reaching 86%, the highest among all regions.

African Airlines

African airlines saw a notable 18.5% increase in traffic in January 2024 compared to the previous year.

However, the load factor experienced a slight decline to 73.3%, the lowest among all regions, despite a 19.2% increase in capacity.

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A passenger looks out the cabin window of an airliner.
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Domestic Passenger Markets

Domestic demand growth remains robust, especially in China, fueled by strong demand for Lunar New Year travel.

Chinese carriers responded by increasing capacity, particularly through the deployment of wide-body jets.

Insight from IATA’s Director General

Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, emphasized the strong start of 2024, notwithstanding economic and geopolitical uncertainties.

He highlighted the pivotal role of aviation in driving economic prosperity. Walsh urged governments to implement policies conducive to reducing costs, and improving efficiency. He stressed the continuation of efforts towards net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

Future Outlook

The outlook for the aviation industry in 2024 appears promising, with continued recovery anticipated across both international and domestic markets.

However, challenges such as economic volatility and regulatory pressures persist, necessitating collaborative efforts between stakeholders to ensure sustainable growth.

Explanation of measurement terms:

  • RPK: Revenue Passenger Kilometers measures actual passenger traffic
  • ASK: Available Seat Kilometers measures available passenger capacity
  • PLF: Passenger Load Factor is % of ASKs used.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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